A Tough Decision to Make Today and a Special Visit

Another busy day at the Santa Ines hospital and our last day of surgeries. Due to operating room schedule delays throughout the week, the True North team faced difficult decision this morning: with only one afternoon/evening of operating time left and 6 patients remaining, we needed to decide whether to postpone 2 patients and cut the day to just afternoon (in the hope that another mission can take on the postponed cases) or push through and commit to completing all 6 surgeries. Given that each surgery varies in level of complication, our dedicated but practical OR team knew that 6 surgeries meant the potential for a late night in the operating room and an even later night for our recovery, ward and processing teams.

We decided to leave no patient un-operated on. We came here to help those in need, and as a team, we concluded that we should leave no patient behind, no matter how tired we may be. We are pleased to announce that we successfully completed all 6 surgeries, in addition to discharging 4 healthy patients throughout the day.

True North Missions was also given a unique opportunity today. We were very blessed to have a few of our team members accompany one of the discharged patients to his home. The experience was an eye-opening one. It allowed us to further assess the living conditions that our patients are recovering in, as well as better understand what kind of a community they come from.

We were welcomed into the home by the patient, his mother and brother. In this small home, comprised of three stories (each about the size of a small bedroom, except the main floor which had a small, adjoined kitchen), mama raised 5 boys. It had all the typical signs of poverty: surfaces in need of repair, broken appliances too expensive to fix, sparse belongings, and beds where ever they fit. Our patient was wheeled up the muddy, grassy slope to the door, transferred onto a small, uneasy chair, and carried up 2 flights of wobbly, unrepaired stairs. He will be resting in a small room throughout his recovery, under a small shrine to the Mother Mary. Up one more set of steep stairs to the attic, his beautiful artwork covered the walls of his regular bedroom, which he shares with his younger brother. Though the home was kept tidy and clean, it was obvious that money was not something this family had. Perhaps what stood out the most, however, is that there was a sense of peace and happiness throughout the household. They all smiled and laughed as we gawked at the beautiful artwork, and they escorted us to the rooftop, where we could appreciate the expansive view this family so dearly treasured. This family has truly proven to us that happiness comes from love, health and faith, not possessions.

Our team members profusely thanked the family for sharing their home and headed back to the hospital, but not before the mother insisted they take a handful of fresh tomatoes from their tomato tree (yes, ‘tree’, not vine!) What a lovely gesture to share the food they worked so hard to obtain (and no doubt, need).

Another day of very hard, but rewarding work, has come to an end. As we celebrate the end to a successful week in the operating room, and prepare for the remainder of our commitment to helping patients recover, we reflect on the reason we come to help these people: Because we can.

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